Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What is the Deal With Extreme Couponing?

Ok, just caught part of that show on extreme couponers.  I have to say, I don't get it!  What is the point of having a two year stock pile of junk anyway?

It looks to me like these people are just super organized hoarders.  Doesn't most of that stuff expire before they can make use of it?  Doesn't that mean it's just a huge waste?  What I noticed was that most of the "groceries" they are getting aren't real food.  "vitamin" water, candy, salad dressings, enough toilet paper to last 20 years... it's not actually food.

And the time that goes into that! Seriously, it's a full time job finding and organizing the coupons, then planning the trip itself.  I'm all for saving money, but I just can't see myself doing this.

As Shawn and I were discussing this idea, it occurred to us that even if we wanted to, it would be hard to attempt this here.  We don't really have coupons.  There aren't coupon flyers that come with the paper, like the places in the show, and our stores don't have double coupon days.  Oh sure, Superstore has that wall of coupons for some of their brand's items, but that's not really the same thing.

Where do they get the millions of coupons that they are sorting and filing so carefully anyway?  I saw one lady dumpster diving for them, another knocking on her neighbor's doors.  Do they have websites that they get them from?  Do they pay for that?

So, I'm curious, have any of you ever set out to coupon like crazy?  How do you do it? 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest Post–By Shawn

i don;t konsw wjkskN  


shift+enter starts a new paragraph

i love you!!    


I have been having trouble getting Live Writer to work, i just couldn’t figure out how to start a new paragraph and the old short cut key wasn’t working.  Shawn obviously updated it for me.  When I opened my computer this morning, this is the cute note I found!

Love you too hunney!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

So, Can You See Progress?

Having coffee with a friend of mine last week, we were talking about my goal of paying down debt, and she asked me "So, can you see progress?  I mean, can you see real, measurable improvement since you started?" I've been discouraged lately that our progress has been too slow, but when I took a second to think about her question, I realized that, yes, we have made huge progress in the last 14 months!  To encourage myself, and maybe you too, I thought I'd take a moment to sum up what we have achieved so far!

We have found a "budget sweet spot" that works for us.  Enough structure to avoid surprises with enough flexibility built in that we don't freak out over a few dollars over or under in a specific category.  I make a plan at the begining of the month, trying to leave a bit of room in case something does come up.  But I have given up on trying to track every single item with a software program.  I just didn't have enough time, and being behind was just one more thing to feel guilty about.  I know it wouldn't work for everyone, but this middle ground way is working really well for us - right now anyway! I no longer worry that we won't have enough to cover expenses because I have a plan to save ahead for things we know are coming up.  Less stress all around!

We are working together.  When I was the only one paying attention to the bottom line, I resented being stuck with all the responsibility and Shawn felt left our of the decision making.  Now we have more equal input on where money is allotted.  I know when we need to spend on groceries and he knows when we need to spend on vehicle or home maintenance.

We welcomed our fourth child, and made it through a pregnancy and newborn period without overspending!

We celebrated halloween, Christmas and all the birthdays in our family without overspending!

We started homeschooling and adjusting to this new way of life.

We payed off over $6,000 that was on our visa, and burned the cards! ( fun pictures here! ).

We lowered the interest rate on our mastercard, and have paid off about a third of it.  We sold some belongings to pay it off faster and continue to make progress monthly.  Our goal is to have the remaining $7,990 dollars paid off by next October.  We were so excited to get that number under eight thousand!!

We put aside an emergency fund and have been able to leave it intact!!

We have saved ahead and paid cash for all the activities our kids wanted to participate in, which at different times has included ballet, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, 4H and piano lessons.

We bought a piano and built the girls a bunk bed.

Yes, I'd say we have made lots of progress in 14 months!  We still have a long way to go, like paying off the mastercard, then tackling the credit line, but when I look back, I can really see how well we've been doing!  What's up next for us?  We'll be continuing to sell some items, working out a plan for Christmas which may include a trip to BC this year, and we need to start work on renovating our kitchen.. besides all the normal stuff!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sometimes It Really Sucks Having Only One Vehicle...

Sharing one vehicle is a decision Shawn and I completely agree on, and for the most part we are really happy with it.  Whenever we have considered owning a second one, the added cost far outweighs what little benefits we would experience.  Partly this is because he drives his work vehicle home because he is permanently "on call" and so I almost always have unhindered use of our own stylin' van!

But there are times when sharing our vehicle really sucks!

One of the worst was right after I had our third child. Shawn's boss decided that he didn't have to be permanently on call, and so he would not need to drive his van home for two weeks out of three, while others were on call.  During this period of time, I had to pack up three kids, including a newborn, at 8 in the morning in order to drop Shawn off at work, and race back to the school to drop off our son, who could not be here for bus pick up times without making his dad late. And yes, some mornings, I was driving in my PJs...and feeling thankful that no other coworkers park at the same location he needed to! Then, I had to pick up Baden after school, come home, start supper and pack everyone up again at 5 to pick Shawn up at work.  Just soak that in for a sec, I'm sure you can imagine that was fu-un! 

As much as I enjoyed the fact that Shawn wasn't on call as much, I really hated all that extra driving!  It wasn't long, however, before Shawn was once again on call at all times, freeing me from the daily driving.

The other thing that causes havoc with my hogging of our vehicle is... hunting season, and alas it is upon us again!  I am glad Shawn hunts for several reasons, super healthy meat at a very low cost is the biggest one. ( Curious what it costs? Check it our here:Cost of Our Family's Wild Meat   ) The other is that it is Shawn's major stress relief.  I've been known to tell people that Shawn is just not much fun unless he has killed something recently, whether it be fish, foul or game.  However, it does make it hard to share our vehicle!

If Shawn needs to take the van to go on a hunting trip, I cannot use it that same day.  If he is going on a longer trip I may be home with the kids without a vehicle for a weekend, or the better part of a week.  I do not live within walking distance of a grocery store, so this requires some real planning! If I had something planned and he can somehow get a day off, I need to cancel my plans where possible.  It's been so hard for him to get days off lately that he has to take whatever opportunities come up!

And so, this is what I find myself thinking on this week: How to share the van over the next few months.  This week, our mom's group is having a consignment sale.  I need to drop clothes off Thursday or Friday, work at the sale Friday night and pick up left over items on Saturday.  Then, I would like to be in Church on Sunday.  Oh, and I have a hair appointment on Thursday. Shawn was going to take Thursday through Sunday off to hunt.  Maybe it's actually good news, then, that work is so busy he can't get away?  It doesn't really feel that way, and it's only putting off the schedule juggling for a few more days.

I'm sure we'll figure it out, just like we have in past years.  Do you and your spouse share a vehicle?  What are some ways you've found to make it all work?  What challenges do you face?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So, I Wanted to Have a Garage Sale...

For almost a year, I have been planning on having a garage sale.  We had one several years ago, and I thought then that I wouldn't do it again.  It's a lot of work, and a big commitment the day of the actual sale to devote your whole day (or days) to standing in your front yard.  Despite, this, I decided it would be a good idea to do it again.  As I cleaned out and pared down room by room, I added things to boxes intended for a garage sale.  The pile of boxes filled up all the floor space in my office, so I moved it to my garage this summer, and started planning.

I guess I decided to have a garage sale again for two main reasons. One, it would get rid of the stuff, and two, it is one way I can earn a little extra money to either help with our goal to pay down debts, or save for Christmas.  I put a lot of time into this, making sure items were clean and set out nicely.  I hung clothes on hangers and put them up so they would be easy to look through.   I went through all the girl baby clothes, keeping only what we wanted for mementos, and decided to sell the rest. I borrowed some tables and set them all out according to size.  I was selling all my maternity clothes too.  Piles of cute shoes, and many many household items. Kitchen things, craft things, books, toys, garage stuff!  Friends of ours who were moving dropped off several boxes to add to the sale.  I had some large furniture items too, a desk, a trundle bed, a stroller and a rocking chair, and even my old car was up for sale that day.

Once I had things all layed out in my garage, we could barely walk in there, and knew we'd be spreading a lot of things out down the driveway in the morning.  It took me about two weeks, working when I had bits and pieces of time, to get all the prep ready.  We kept having to move the day we wanted to have the garage sale, because Shawn's schedule kept changing.  Out of the 10 weekends of summer, he worked 8 1/2 of them.  We finally chose a Sunday, knowing it wasn't the best garage sale day, because it was the only day he would have off in August, and I wasn't putting it all away now that I had it set out!

I had to let the kids entertain themselves a lot in the days leading up to the garage sale, and I'm sure I was short tempered with them, trying to get it all ready.  I had to keep them out of the garage, since they kept whining about the toys they saw in the pile.  I had to make a trip to the bank to have a float ready, and as you might imagine, that is not easy with four kids!

Even though we had agreed on the Sunday, we both felt that a garage sale was a dumb reason to skip church.  That morning, we got up, set out the signs and dragged the tables out to the driveway.  The kids kept coming out and trying to sneak things back into the house, causing me endless frustration.  They went through the things that had been dropped off by our friends and acquired new things.  They tried to chat up every person who came up the driveway.  I tried to send them to play in the back yard, but, left to play unattended and unhappy about not seeing the garage sale, they were stinkers who fought with and bugged each other.  Every few minutes, someone's voice or cry would require attention and Shawn or I would have to go see what was up.  It was a relatively slow day, and at the end of it, all we made was..... $125.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have $125, but I don't think it was really worth it.

I have a huge pile of boxes left over to take away to Value Village.  I could have been dropping it off bit by bit as I decided to get rid of it through the year, instead of storing it and having to move it around.  After the sale, I rounded up the clothes that I don't wear anymore and gave them to a friend.  I told her to pick what she likes and get rid of the rest however she wants to.  I listed the big items on Kijiji.  While that has some frustrations, like people who say they are coming to pick something up but don't show up, I have sold some of the items and made $50 with less effort.  If I sell the other couple of things that people are interested in, that figure will go up yet.  I sold my old car to my brother, and the desk to a friend.  I set the maternity clothes and baby clothes aside to sell at our mom's group consignment sale in September.  I gave some of the toys and games to the neighbors. Ignoring the housework to get the prep done left me with a huge mess to clean up, on top of having the left over items to deal with.

In the end, I don't think it paid for all the effort and hours that went into the garage sale. Maybe it would have done better if we'd chosen a different day.  My time would have been better spent playing with my kids and enjoying my family that day, and the days I used to prep.  I guess I should have given stuff away bit by bit and sold the other items individually, just as I ended up doing anyway.  I was also looking forward to feeling as though I had done something to earn money for our family, and it's frustrating  and disappointing that I didn't earn more than that.  I don't even want to think about how quickly Shawn would earn that much when he puts in overtime. So after I finish cleaning up from this garage sale, I'll be leaving the money earning up to Shawn, while I focus on the homeschool year.  No more garage sales in the near future!

  © Blog Design by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Back to TOP